Sometimes I am just in the mood for a cowboy romance, but I happen to like the books that don’t cater to what they think a reader believes cowboys are like, instead heading straight to a more authentic view of modern life where bulls and horses are as natural as driving pickup truck. Cat Johnson is fortunately an author whose authentic voice trumpets loud and clear through her characters and in her settings, so I was eager to try her latest novel, via NetGalley.
Two Times As Hot certainly lived up to its name and to its cover (letting us know beer wasn’t going to be the only thing found in six pack form inside this novel *wink*). While it is the second book in Cat Johnson’s Oklahoma Nights series, the prologue and epilogue are so well done as to provide the reader with a seamless understanding of the other characters and storylines, allowing anyone to jump right in and enjoy the book fully.
Johnson positions a flashback right at the start (which shows the beginning of One Night with a Cowboy) to the night New York native Emma takes her sister Becca to an Oklahoma rodeo to blow off some steam and hopefully find someone for the night. Emma wants Becca to loosen up before interviewing for an English professor position at the local university and Mr. Rodeo is just what the doctor ordered (Emma being the doctor). Emma herself almost hooks up with Tuck’s friend, Jace, but he’s called away at the last minute to help his ex-girlfriend with a car problem and she never hears from him again. Oh, well.
Flash forward to a year later and Emma is arriving dressed to kill at Becca and Tuck’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Yes, she wants to rub Jace’s face in exactly what he missed out on, but a bigger fish actually bites her hook – in the form of oh-so-sexy, no-games-playing Lieutenant Colonel Logan Hunt, Tuck’s commanding officer in the military science department of the university where he and Becca teach. Logan is fast approaching forty and feeling a little wistful that his career has had him missing an opportunity to find someone who would look at him the way Becca is looking at Tuck. But all that is driven out of his mind the minute he sees Emma unfold those long legs bared by her little black dress from the family rental car.
From the minute their eyes connect, the sexual tension between Logan and Emma is so startling that even the besotted couple getting married notice it. Yet continual distractions exist, with Jace attempting to get back into Emma’s good graces (and her bed) and Tuck’s little sister Tara deciding she’s all grown up and ready to show the much older Logan that she wants to act on the feelings she’s had for him since she was a child. But Logan didn’t survive Afghanistan to have these kind of logistical problems throw him through a loop. He and Emma have a mind-blowing night (and morning) before she gets back on a plane to head home.
Yet this is when all hell breaks loose for Logan, who doesn’t even have the time to wrangle her phone number from someone so he can let her know how much he’s missing her. Emma back in the city is miserable that her sister and her new husband have dropped off the face of the earth for three weeks and the man who gave her the best sex of her life also hasn’t lifted the phone to call. She’s feeling unsettled and unhappy and life intervenes to show her that she needs to head back to Oklahoma in order to figure out exactly what Logan and she might have. Right. Now.
There were so many pieces of this book that I not only enjoyed but found downright refreshing. The dialogue and language was true to the characters while never venturing into the wince-worthy “hick” dialect that so many authors feel necessary for cowboy romance. While there was a decent amount of jealousy and tension regarding Jace and Tara, the reader was always comforted that Logan and Emma were clear on who they wanted to be with, and the little triangles made the drama seem so realistic, I felt I was at a real wedding! Can I also complement Cat Johnson on demonstrating how a hero can be a strong man while also not being an asshole? It’s a pretty key point that so many writers today seem to miss, and she demonstrates how Logan is a sexy, dominating guy while being a gentleman down to his toes.
Based on the teaser chapter at the end, it’s clear that Tara and Jace are going to have to move beyond their hang-ups and issues to grow up a little since they are clearly the next intended match in the Oklahoma Nights series, with their story, Three Weeks With a Bull Rider, projected to come out in March of 2014. I for one am looking forward to going along for the ride and seeing another Oklahoma couple steam up Stillwater.